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Mark Lees and team win the J/70 UK Nationals with a fresh set of North Sails

The 2018 National Championship saw the growing J/70 fleet at its full strength, with thirty-five boats entered for the 3-day event held by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. With light winds in the forecast for the weekend, there was high hopes for the Solent seabreeze. Fortunately PRO Stuart Childerley delayed racing each day guaranteeing great afternoon racing in the summer seabreezes.

Mark Lees onboard SeriousFun with his young team were crowned 2018 UK National Champions after ten races, with a lead of 20 points and four bullets. They raced on a brand new boat with new North sails straight off the shelf the day before the regatta. In second place overall was reigning J/111 World Champions, Martin Dent with his team onboard Jelvis and rounding off the podium in third place was Doug Struth’s DSP who were also first corinthian team. All three top teams were powered by North!

We caught up with Mark Lees to learn more about their experience:

Brand new boat and brand new team – What did you do to make sure the boat was ready for racing?

Not a lot! We only got the boat the day before the regatta and didn’t expect to be ready in time. The forecast was for a light weekend and we thought it would be a good chance to shake the boat down. We made sure we checked the rig setup thoroughly and went into the racing with very open minds. To have the boat go as well as it did was a very pleasant surprise.

Why North Sails? Which models did you use?

When starting out in a new class I thought it was important to reduce as many variables as possible. I have a good relationship with the guys at North Sails from previous campaigns and they advised which sails most of the fleet were using – the whole process couldn’t have been easier. We used the XCS-1 mainsail, J-6 Jib and AP-1 spinnaker.

Did you follow the North Sails Tuning Guide?

We started off bang on the North guide and didn’t stray too much. We thought we were on the lighter side as a crew so we changed up a little earlier than the guide.

The J/70 is not the only class you sail, what experience did you bring from Etchells to the J/70?

The basics are key. As mentioned we weren’t as well prepared for this event as we would have liked. We didn’t put pressure on ourselves with any expectations, which was definitely an advantage, but we focused very hard on the basics.

We followed the tuning guide, we started well – choosing a side of the course and then aiming for a clean start in that half of the line but away from the pack. From there we tried to keep it simple and fought hard to stay in clear air.

Tell us a little about your team onboard

I had a fantastic team of close friends and very good sailors. My girlfriend Hannah Peters has been doing a lot of J/70 sailing recently which really helped us. It was fantastic for us to sail together. Toby Mumford used to match race with me and we’ve sailed together for a long time. He’s good for me as he always gives an honest opinion about how I am sailing – good or bad! Annabel Vose, our tactician, who I have sailed with and against many times. She did a great job this weekend and made my life a lot easier. There are a lot of very good sailors in this fleet so I’m glad she was on our boat!

This is a testimonial to not only Mark and his team’s racing skill but also to the production and consistency of the boats and the sails. Here at North Sails we pride ourselves in our worldwide consistency in the production of our One Design sails and Mark’s win is a true testimonial to this.

Congratulations to Mark and team SeriousFun. To find out more about the North Sails tuning guide or to speak to one of our J/70 experts, head to the class page!

J/70 UK Nationals 2018
1 SeriousFun / Mark Lees
2 Jelvis / Martin Dent
3 DSP / Doug Struth
5 Calypso / Calascione/ Ripard
6 Eat,Sleep,J,Repeat / Paul Ward
7 Sorcha J / Peter Harrison
8 JDog / John Greenland
9* Darcey / Clive Bush
* Denotes Partial North Sails Inventory


Full results

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